“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
–Psalm 46:1 (NIV)
Imagine yourself in a western town, riding down the dusty street on your horse. You have just left the town’s one saloon, and you’re feeling pretty good. But then you suddenly hear another horse coming up fast. The rider calls out, “Give me back my timepiece, or you’ll be sorry! You cheated!”
The rider is none other than Wild Bill Hickock. You try not to look nervous as you ride on.
“You heard me!” the famous gunman shouts. “If you’re man enough, meet me in the town square at six o’clock tomorrow morning with your gun ready!”
History records that the very first quick-draw gunfight revolved around the ownership of Buffalo Bill’s watch. But now I want to switch gears, and talk about an interesting character in the Old Testament named Elijah. He was a prophet who ministered in Israel, and he once challenged the people to a kind of spiritual showdown by standing for truth.
The children of Israel were worshipping their false gods, so Elijah called out, “Why are you wavering between two opinions? We’ll see who the true god is. Come out and offer sacrifices to both, and worship the one who sets them on fire.”
So they agreed, and Elijah let the false prophets go first, reminding them not to set fire to the wood themselves. They shouted and danced until about noon time when Elijah began to mock them. “What’s wrong, home-boys? Is your god on vacation? Oh, I have it–he’s taking a nap!”
So the false prophets shouted louder. Finally, when he couldn’t take it anymore, Elijah called the people over and rebuilt God’s altar.
Then he dug a trench around it, large enough to hold three gallons of water. He piled dry wood on the altar and prepared the sacrifice.
“Fill four more jars with water,” he called, “and drench the wood.” But that wasn’t enough, so he repeated the stacking and drenching of wood three times.
Then he prayed to the one true God, asking Him to show the people who He was. At that moment, fire came down from heaven, burned up everything, and licked up all the water.
Now we’re going to fast-forward to the king’s homecoming. The Bible doesn’t give us details about this scene, but I picture it like this.
The king arrives home, tired and depressed after a hard day’s work at the palace. Strutting in, he commands his servants to make him comfortable as he throws his briefcase down.
Hearing the noise, the queen says, “Honey, is that you?”
“Don’t honey me! That troublemaker Elijah has killed all the false prophets!”
“What?” she cries, running into the room. “Where did I put my cell phone? Oh, there it is,” she sighs, snatching it up and hitting speed-dial.
Without any small talk, she starts right in when Elijah picks up. “May the gods strike me dead if I don’t kill you by tomorrow!”
The Bible tells us that Elijah became afraid and ran to a town, where he left his assistant. Then he ran alone into the wilderness, where he sat dejectedly under a tree and prayed that he would die.
Sleeping and miraculously being fed by an angel (who probably gave him angel food cake), he was refreshed. Coming to a cave, he spent the night there.
But the Lord said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” When Elijah reminded Him of his service, the Lord told him to go out and stand on a mountain.
A terrible wind came up, but the Lord wasn’t in the storm. Next came an earthquake and a fire, but the Lord wasn’t in either one. However, hearing a still, small voice again, he wrapped his face in a cloak and stood at the cave’s entrance.
“What are you doing here, Elijah?” the voice whispered again.
Now I want to stop right here, because we can see some parallels to this story in our own lives. When you and I take a stand for what is right, we may have a mountaintop experience, which causes us to congratulate ourselves. But as we experience the fallout, we often begin to have second thoughts and run from God.
The Lord may be trying to get our attention, but we sit down, depressed, and lick our wounds. Searching for God, we listen to the sensational smoke and fire, which is what we want to hear.
But let me ask you a question: Have you discovered that anything without God is just noise? He invites you to listen to Him today as He whispers to your heart, “My child, what are you doing here?” He is not so much referring to a physical location, but the location of your heart in your walk with Him.
Alternatively, you may not know Him, but still He is whispering to you, “I am standing at your heart’s door and knocking. If you will open the door to Me, I will come in to you.”
If you have any questions or prayer requests, please call or email us, and Stephanie or I will be glad to talk and pray with you.
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.mynvm.com and click on the PayPal button. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870.
Finally, you’re always welcome to join our Tuesday night Bible study. These studies are conducted by conference call, and they take place at 5:30 PM Arizona time. Our conference number is 313-209-8800. Our PIN is 8699032. We hope to talk with you soon!
If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 507-369-6861.